Filmmaker: 'In My Heart, I've Never Left McKeesport'

August 17, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Submitted photo courtesy Heinz History Center)

Sam Zolten was at the beach in North Wildwood, N.J., last week when he spotted someone wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers hat. So he walked over to say hello.

"He turned out to be a teacher at McKeesport High School," Zolten says. "In my heart, I've never left McKeesport. I'm still an 18-year-old, going to the White Elephant on Saturday nights. It's the town that grew me and the town that I fondly reminisce about."

Thanks to his new documentary, many more McKeesporters --- including those, like Zolten, who moved away long ago --- will likely be reminiscing as well. "Missing McKeesport" has yet to be screened and is already creating enormous buzz among past and present Mon-Yough residents.

More than seven years in the making, the movie will have its world premiere at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh's Strip District.

"There's a lot of buzz in the community about it and it's a film I'm very proud of," Zolten says.

 
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Sentencing Scheduled for State Representative Caught in Gambling Ring

August 16, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

State Rep. Marc Gergely will be sentenced Nov. 6 for his connections to a gambling ring that was broken up by investigators in 2012.

Gergely, 47, of White Oak, on Tuesday pleaded guilty before Allegheny County Judge Ed Borkowski to criminal conspiracy and violating state election laws by accepting cash contributions in excess of $100. Both charges are first-degree misdemeanors carrying penalties of not more than $10,000 in fines or five years' prison or probation.

Related charges of participating in a corrupt organization, conspiracy to participate in a corrupt organization, dealing in proceeds of illegal activity and criminal attempt to operate illegal gambling devices were withdrawn by prosecutors.

Gergely represents the 35th Legislative District, which includes Clairton, Duquesne, Lincoln, McKeesport, Munhall, South Versailles Twp., Versailles, Whitaker, White Oak and part of West Mifflin. He was first elected to the seat in 2002 and was re-elected last year after defeating McKeesport City Councilwoman Fawn Walker-Montgomery, who was running as a Republican.

 
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3,000 'Dreams' Later, Local Charity Still Helping People in Need

July 28, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

  • Listen: Jamie Holmes is our guest this week on "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes." The show airs Sundays at 8 a.m. on WEDO (810) and WZUM (1550) and at 3 p.m. on Internet radio station WMCK.FM. It's also available as a free podcast from our website.

In 2005, a 17-year-old who had just graduated from McKeesport Area High School started a charity with the help of her grandma's checkbook.

Last year, Jamie's Dream Team raised nearly $400,000 to provide help to children and families in serious need. More than 3,000 people have benefited from Jamie's Dream Team since its inception, Holmes says.

"We've grown fairly quickly," she says. Although the charity remains based in the McKeesport area, it now serves families anywhere in the United States. "Where the money is raised is where the money stays," Holmes says. "If we get a request from North Carolina, we try to raise the money there."

The charity is presently trying to raise $52,000 to send 10 families to Walt Disney World in Florida and to help raise funds will hold a fishing derby Aug. 12 at Twin Lakes Park just east of Greensburg. Contestants will be able to compete for cash prizes as well as gift cards, Holmes says.

 
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Officials: Medical Marijuana's Effects Will Transform Valley, Lives

July 27, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The Mon Valley is at the forefront of a new industry that will be as transformative for the rest of the world as the steel industry was a century ago, state Sen. Jim Brewster said Thursday.

At a groundbreaking ceremony on the site of the former U.S. Steel National Works, Brewster called PurePenn's new medical cannabis production and research facility "a beacon of hope" for both the region and patients around Pennsylvania.

"Don't let the naysayers drag you down," Brewster told a crowd of more than 200 gathered in the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport, where PurePenn is purchasing five acres of property, with an option to purchase five more. "We can do almost anything in the Mon Valley --- you should believe that."

Afterwards, many in the crowd joined the hundreds of people who lined up outside the Palisades Ballroom to apply for one of the 25 jobs that PurePenn needs to fill.

Gabe Perlow, the company's chief executive officer, said operations will begin by Dec. 20.

 
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Bang-Up Job: VFW Volunteers Refurbish Howitzer Near Kennywood

July 19, 2017 |

By Mike Mauer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Thanks to two local men and West Mifflin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 914 Intrepid, a ceremonial howitzer near Kennywood Park recently received a much-needed facelift.

Ken Curcio and Garrett Tomko, both from West Mifflin, refurbished the monument earlier this month as part of a community service project. The howitzer sits in Mitchell Paige Memorial Park at the intersection of Homeville Road and Commonwealth Avenue, and is seen by thousands of motorists as well as students at nearby West Mifflin Area High School.

According to VFW Post 914 Commander Jake Bradich, the results couldn’t be better.

“Like the men and women who serve in our armed forces, you always expect a piece of military hardware to look sharp,” said Bradich, an Army combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  “I’m glad we’re able to help honor our veterans in this way, and I thank everybody in the VFW and in the borough who helped make this possible.”

 
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Property Owner to Be Cited in Connection with Compost Fire in Clairton

July 17, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A fire in a large compost pile in Clairton that's been burning, on and off, since last week appears to have broken out from natural combustion, Allegheny County officials said Monday.

However, a county spokeswoman said, the pile was created by illegal dumping of debris, and the fire is having a negative impact both on the air quality in the neighborhood, as well as a nearby creek.

The property owner will be cited by the Allegheny County Health Department's Solid Waste Program for improper disposal of waste and for the conditions that led to the fire, the county said in a statement.

The Clairton Fire Department was dispatched to a site off of Worthington Avenue several times last week for what firefighters thought might be a mine fire, Allegheny County officials said.

 
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City Residents Angry Over Gun Shop's Expansion; Owner Understands Concerns

July 07, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(A firearms dealer is renovating the former Burt Foster American Legion Post, shown here, for use as a retail store. Residents packed this week's city council meeting, saying the location showed insensitivity in a town fighting against handgun violence. Tube City Almanac photo.)


© 2017 Tube City Community Media Inc.

Residents of McKeesport angry over a firearms dealer's planned expansion Downtown packed city council chambers this week to raise issue with what they called a lack of "transparency" and "consideration."

The store's owner, meanwhile, said Friday in an interview with Tube City Almanac that he hears their concerns, but is running a legal, responsible operation.

"I'm not here for scare tactics and I'm not here to sell guns to other people who shouldn't have one," said Jonathan Stark, owner of Pittsburgh FFL, which is renovating the former Burt Foster American Legion post to be used as a retail gun store to be known as "Legion Arms."

"I'm not a 'crazy gun guy,'" Stark said. "I'm a businessman. I think that's what allows me to understand both sides of the issue.

"We operate responsibly, but I do understand that there is a stigma," he said. "We provide a legal, lawful business and service, and I want everything we do to be positive."

 
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Rabid Cat Found in Liberty; Residents Urged to Vaccinate Pets

July 07, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Residents of Liberty Borough are being urged to vaccinate their pets after a rabid cat was found in the area.

The Allegheny County Health Department said that a cat got in an altercation with a dog in the 3100 block of Valley Ridge Road this week. The cat, believed to be feral, was found to have rabies.

Anyone in that area who has had exposure to a feral cat should contact the health department, a spokeswoman said, and contact with stray animals should be avoided. Residents should have their pets vaccinated, and watch for unusual behavior.

“Well-intentioned efforts by individuals sometime can result in unnecessary exposure to pathogens like the rabies virus,”  Dr. Karen Hacker, health department director, said in a statement.

So far in 2017, seven rabid animals have been reported in Allegheny County, includijng one cat, three bats and three raccoons.

 
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Medical Cannabis Grower Slates Job Fair July 27

July 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Photo courtesy PurePenn LLC, via Facebook.)

The company that has just been awarded a license to produce medical cannabis in McKeesport will hold a job fair for potential employees on July 27.

PurePenn LLC is purchasing five acres in the industrial park along the city's Monongahela River waterfront to construct a growing facility and laboratory. The company is one of 12 statewide that were awarded licenses to produce medicinal cannabis, or marijuana, to potentially treat conditions ranging from glaucoma to chronic pain to lack of appetite caused by the effects of chemotherapy.

The job fair will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Palisades ballroom, corner of Fifth and Water streets, Downtown, next to the McKees Point Marina. The company expects to hire 25 people to begin operations within the next six months.

"PurePenn is very committed to being involved in this community," Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "They are committed to finding workers from within the city of McKeesport, as well as veterans. It's a great opportunity for our residents."

 
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Mayor, Council Appoint New Administrator, Controller

July 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac photo)

McKeesport's controller was appointed to the city's top administrative position on Wednesday night, while the man who was running to replace the controller has been elevated to that job on an interim basis.

Council voted 6-0 to name Tom Maglicco as city administrator, effective immediately. Councilwoman Fawn Walker-Montgomery was absent during the vote.

Maglicco replaces Matt Gergely, who resigned to take a position as assistant to the business manager in the McKeesport Area School District.

"Mr. Maglicco was on a very extremely short list" of replacements for Gergely, Mayor Mike Cherepko said. "It was very clear to me early on that he has a passion for making McKeesport a better place to live and work."

 
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